No cookie cutter? No problem: Easter Eggs Cookies

Have I ever mentioned before that I love cookie cutters? Love ’em! I have the basics, the funky and the unusual. Graduated circles? got ’em. Stockings, ornaments, trees? Check, check and check. I even have a lobster.   But what’s a gal to do when she doesn’t have …

just the right cutter? Thanks to a computer, a printer and a pair of scissors you can go from being out of luck to out of sight and dy-no-mite with your cookie creations. Here’s the scoop.

First, take a second to check out the photo above. As you can see, one of the eggs isn’t a cookie. It’s a pysanka. Pysanky (pie-sank-ee or piz-anhk-ee)  is an ancient art form from Eastern Europe, using wax and dye to decorate real eggshells with symbolic colors and patterns. I got turned on to pysanky about 20 years ago after seeing a magazine article. I bought a kit and have been making egg art for years now.I don’t have any Eastern European lineage, but I love color and line and pattern, so this art really speaks to me.

Every spring I bring in some eggs for show and tell with my fellow bakers. Last year Halley, our web director fell in love and tried to get me to feature the eggs in a blog. “But Halley, they don’t have anything to do with baking!” was my excuse but this year those crafty web girls had a plan. My blog schedule arrived in my mailbox with “March, Easter cookies-MJ- I’m sure you can work your fantastic eggs in somehow!”

So, caught in the web (pun intended) I set out to use one of my favorite decorating techniques to produce elaborate Easter egg cookies to mimic pysanky. The dough was made and chilling and off I went to find an oval cutter. I searched high and low in the test kitchen and the merchandise room, the sample shelf and the test kitchen again. Gasp! Not an oval to be found.

Now I was in a quandary.  I knew I had no less than 7 or 8 different sized ovals at home but there was no way to get them here.  Should I mangle one of the round cutters to make an oval? Probably not. Should I give up? Definitely not. I should think outside of the cookie cutter box and come up with a solution that would work for me, and for you, my fellow bakers. Enter my computer, a piece of paper, my trusty scissors, and an egg is born. Let’s see how it’s done.

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Most word processing programs like Microsoft Word have a tool box with templates for basic shapes. I found this one under Insert, AutoShapes. And look, an oval!

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Then, just drag out the shape you want to the size you want. The ruler in the margins is a big help.  No computer? Again, no problem. Many children’s coloring books have great basic shapes that you can trace and cut out. It’s all good.

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Next, print onto plain white paper and cut on the lines. If you are making lots of cookies, you may want to glue the paper form to something sturdy like cereal box cardboard to give it strength.

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Now, just place the template on your rolled out cookie dough and cut with a sharp knife. My very favorite recipe for rolled cookies is our Holiday Butter Cookies. Great texture, rolls beautifully, holds its shape well and oh yeah, it’s DELICIOUS!

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Cutting shapes by hand does lead to a few rough edges. Just use your fingertip to smooth them out.

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Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet with a large flat spatula or turner and bake until lightly golden browned.

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On to the icing. We’ve done cookie icing a few times here on the blog, so I won’t show all the steps again here, but do check this out if you need a refresher.

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I love using these mini silicone pans for mixing small batches of colored icing. They are just the right size and the flexibility makes for easy stirring.  Plus, being able to match the color of the icing to the color of the bowl really floats my boat.  Just a drop or two of our gel colors will give you vibrant color and won’t thin down your icing. Bonus!

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See?! Isn’t that great! Pink icing in the pink bowl, blue in the blue. All is right with the world.

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Test the consistency of the icing after you’ve added the color. A blob dropped in the mixture should disappear by the count of 10.

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Run out of hands? Use a sturdy tall cup to hold your piping bag open for you. See the big pile of toothpicks on the left? You’ll need a bunch of those. I’ll wait while you go grab some.

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Doesn’t that picture just make you smile? Cheerful happy colors all ready to go. Now for the fun part, it’s gonna blow your mind how easy this is.

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Outline your cookie with your background color and “flood” it to fill in. Be sure the icing stays wet, this technique just doesn’t work with dry icing.

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Next pipe a few dots into the wet icing. The new color will sink into the base color, and that’s just what you want. Now, grab your toothpick and…

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drag it through both layers of icing. The dots turn into tiny hearts. Sweet!

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So if dots turn into hearts, what happens when you pipe stripes?

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Begin at the top edge of the cookie and drag your toothpick down through both layers of icing, straight towards the bottom edge. Return to the top and repeat across the whole cookie.

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Wow! Just by dragging the toothpick downward through both layers, you get bargello like designs.

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Before I forget, it’s very helpful to wipe the tip of the piping bag clean between cookies and colors. It just helps keep the colors from bleeding together or splotching.

It’s also very important to wipe your toothpick tip clean between each row or drag. If you don’t you’ll transfer the icing you just swiped to the clean icing and make smudgy messes.

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You can vary the colors of the stripes, and you can vary the direction in which you drag the toothpick. Try alternating top to bottom, then bottom to top.

 

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Woo hoo! It’s stunning and no one has to know how easy it is.

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So we’ve done dots and stripes. Let’s move on to circles. Pipe a few concentric circles into the wet base icing.

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Starting on the inside of the circles, drag outward in four places at 12, 3, 6 and 9 on the clock.

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Now, drag outward between those 4 for a total of 8 outward “spikes”.

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For the finishing touch, drag inward between each of the 8 spikes to form a flower. Amazing!

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Now that you know the basics, explore away. Try dragging only partically, to make arches. Leave some stripes or dots alone for contrast.

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Add leaves and stems to your flowers.

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Andrea loved this one so much she hung it at her station. She was such a good girl she didn’t even push the pins into the wood, she used tape to support the pins. She’s such a smartie!

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I’m sure you know how it goes when you are on a creative roll. I started visualizing pinatas in the designs, so I grabbed a cookie cutter and started making donkeys. (OK, technically they are sheep, but pretend with me, eh? )

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It worked! I really think these involke pinatas with their fun stripes and bright colors. Don’t forget to vary your background color, the pink pinata really sings.

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If you’re like me, sometimes you just can’t resist a little extra bling. I’ve been wanting to use our new lilac pearls on fancy cookies and this is the perfect opportunity. A few dots of icing will hold the pearls right in place.

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In all honesty, these beautiful cookies were all done in less than 90 minutes. I was a bit disappointed when the fun was over, so I have another batch planned soon for an upcoming bake sale. I don’t think many people will be able to resist, do you?

Here’s wishing you a happy Spring filled with color. Enjoy!

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Linda

    Just saw this in my email! Wish I’d seen it before Easter!! I ,too, have always loved those kind of eggs and never thought of doing this. I will definitely show these to my granddaughters next year!! Thanks so much!!
    Why wait Linda? Just cut some circles and make funky beach balls for summer. Or cut some diamonds and make spring kites. The flowers on round cookies would make lovely Mother’s Day cookies too. The possibilities are endless! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Janet

    Hi, I made the Eaaster egg cookies and they turned out beautiful but the frosting stuck to your teeth when you bit into the cookie. And, they remained too sticky to stack. My husband stacked them after nearly 36 hours of drying and they all stuck together. What did I do wrong? I’d like to try the icing technique again but am hesitant. Could I use my regular buttercream icing if I made it thinner?
    Hi Janet,
    It sounds like the icing may have been a bit too wet. Be sure to mix on low speed for a few minutes to incorporate the ingredients well rather than adding more water too soon. Buttercream doesn’t really work well for this technique, sorry.
    ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. Ally

    Stumbled across your designs and instructions a few weeks back, and have been waiting to try it this morning. I took the advice of a using a plastic cup and holding it to an egg shape after I cut it down to my desired size. I ended up using sandwich bags for piping, which worked out okay, although some of the holes I cut were just ever slightly too large. My designs look fun (even tho some might look a bit like a child did it) I even survived the flipping of my work surface onto the floor (with decorated eggs!!!) after my first batch 🙁
    Thanks so much for posting the instructions – it was fun. Next time it will be ‘funner’, because I’ll have people over to do it!

    Reply
  4. Gert Martel

    I just finished making and decorating my cookies this morning and they look awesome! I’m bringing them for Easter dinner and “show them off”. Hope the kids will want to eat them. Thank you so much for the detailed instructions–it really is easier than I ever thought. I enjoy your website so much.
    Have a wonderful time. I hope you get lots of pats on the back and hugs from the kids. I’m sure everyone will be impressed. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. Nel

    I’m confused, because when I click on the recipe, it gives an icing recipe that uses powdered sugar, corn syrup and milk. But in the midst of the blog, it gives a link to a royal icing with meringue powder.

    Which icing will harden up into a nice, shiny coat so that I can stack these cookies for travel?

    Also, can you flavor the icing, or is it purely ‘for looks’?

    I don’t have meringue powder, but I do have corn syrup, so if they are the same in terms of hardness, I’ll use the recipe that comes with the cookie recipe.
    Hi Nel,
    Sorry for the confusion. Both icing recipes will work just fine and they both dry firm for stacking. I like the meringue powder one best, personally. You can definitely flavor the icing. I just made a batch with lemon oil, just a couple of drops. Have fun!
    ~MaryJane

    Reply
  6. anne

    Hi from indonesia. i really love the idea of doing this kind of decorating> However for the royal icing I cannot find the meringue powder. So if I want to use egg whites, how many do I need for the royal icing recipe?
    Thanks

    Reply
  7. Laurie

    Just made 32 different cookies, got creative and had a blast!!!! It took some quick organizing with the icing but next time will be a breeze. Thanx for sharing this and all the work with pictures to explain everything.
    Because there is milk in the icing I was wondering how long the cookies are good for? Can they be put in the freezer?
    Laurie
    Those cookies are fine in a zip lock bag at room temperature for a few days but are also fine to freeze. Molly @ KAF

    Reply
  8. Sara S

    Fabulous! I have made and decorated cut out cookies many many times, but I have never actually enjoyed it past the first few cookies. Not this time – my little daughter and I had such fun with each one – and they looked surprisingly lovely! In anticipation of “decorating fatigue”, I made one huge egg cookie as well – it was the most fun of all to decorate! (even though the “fatigue” never set it.) Thanks, thanks, thanks for giving us this fun and delicous new Easter tradition!
    Oh, Sara I’m intrigued to think of the marbling technique on a giant cookie. Like one very big flower, or starburst. Guess that’s going to have to go on my list for next year. Thanks for sharing and I’m glad you had fun. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  9. Alyce

    I just finished making these and thanks to your tutorial they turned out just like the pictures! I will make them again next weekend with the grand kids.
    Good for you Alyce. Have fun and Happy Spring! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  10. Debbie

    Thanks so much for your tutorial! I just finished decorating 3 dz in 90 minutes! Couldn’t have been easier and the are really gorgeous! I used a glaze instead of royal icing and it worked like a charm.
    Tomorrow it’s carrot cake mini cupcakes with “grass” icing dotted with your mini carrots! Can’t wait!
    Awesome Debbie! We made several of these cookies for the bake sale on Saturday, and they went like hot cakes. Glad you had fun! ~ MaryJane

    Reply

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